…By Lola Smith for TDPel Media.
For the first time in England, voters are required to show photo identification to cast their ballots, causing some to worry that significant numbers of people may be unable to vote.
Reports have already emerged of people being turned away from polling stations for lack of correct ID, with critics arguing that the new rules could disproportionately affect young people and ethnic minorities.
The policy is opposed by the Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Green parties, while the government claims it is necessary to reduce electoral fraud.
Acceptable Forms of ID
Those turning up at polling stations are required to show a form of photo identification, such as a passport, driving licence, or blue badge.
Other acceptable forms of identity include biometric residence permits, defence identity cards, and national identity cards issued by the European Union, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein.
However, there are questions about why bus and travel passes for older and disabled people are accepted as photo IDs, but young people’s travel cards are not.
Critics of the policy are concerned that it could have a negative impact on voter turnout, particularly among young people and ethnic minorities.
Labour has encouraged voters to register for a postal vote, which is not subject to the same voter ID regulations.
The Liberal Democrats and Green Party also oppose the policy. Polling expert Professor Sir John Curtice has suggested that there may be a “partisan shadow” over the implementation of the new rules.
Council Elections and Mayoral Elections
More than 8,000 council seats in England are up for election on Thursday, with voting taking place across 230 local authorities.
In addition, mayoral elections are being held in Bedford, Leicester, Mansfield, and Middlesbrough.
Voters in Northern Ireland are already required to present photo ID at elections.
Advice for Voters
Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday.
Voters are advised to check that they have the necessary ID before heading to the polling station.
If a voter forgets their ID, they can return with it later in the day.